Andrew Thomas: London’s history, culture and mysteries

HERE is the weekly column from Andrew Thomas.

In London this week I was interested in the large number of blue plaques attached to the walls of buildings, revealing which famous people had lived there in the past.

They seemed to be everywhere, highlighting which literary figures, scientists and politicians had once spent time in a building.

For example, in Firth Street in Soho, we stopped for a coffee at Bar Italia and spotted a blue plaque above the door.

It commemorated that John Logie Baird, who once lived at the property, first demonstrated television there to members of the Royal Institution on January 26, 1926.

The street has hosted many other famous residents over the years.

The young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lodged two houses along at number 20 with his father and sister in 1764-65 – and, sure enough, there is a blue plaque to highlight it.

And there is a plaque at number 6, showing essayist, drama and literary critic William Hazlitt lived there for a time before his death in 1830.

On a building near Regent’s Park, a plaque revealed both George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf had lived there at separate times.

London has attracted famous people for centuries so it’s perhaps no surprise to see so many signs.

But it got me thinking – do we also highlight our former famous residents in the Lake District?

Well, yes, we do. In Kendal, for example, there is a plaque erected by Kendal Civic Society on a house at Milnthorpe Road, showing portrait painter George Romney lived there for a time.

And the society has also put a plaque in Wainwright’s Yard celebrating A.W. Wainwright, who lived in Kendal for many years and whose famous walking books were once published by The Westmorland Gazette, which is based in the yard.

Other plaques around the town relate the history of institutions and structures such as the town hall, Miller Bridge and the town’s old yards.

It is right we celebrate our past in this way – it reminds us that, wherever we live, we follow in the footsteps of all those who have gone before and have helped shape our heritage.

The Westmorland Gazette | News